Why Wicca and Celtic Paganism Are Different Things

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It is quite common for Wicca and Celtic Paganism to be lumped together. Many people assume that they are the same thing. They are not. Here are the key differences between the two practices as outlined by this article.

Wicca is a relatively modern religion. Celtic Pagan Reconstructionism attempts to practice their spirituality as the Celts did during their Golden Age: Between 400-1300 AD.

Wicca breaks the universe down into the four Greco-Roman elements: Earth, Air, Wind and Fire.

Celtic Paganism adheres to the ancient Celtic view that the universe is triunal in nature. The world is composed of Air, Land and Sea. Existence is also made up of three realms: This world, the other world and the underworld.

Wicca is based on the idea that you should harm none. This tenet is different from the views of the Celts, who in general were a warrior culture. They believed that it was necessary sometimes to kill in order to survive and that death and life were interconnected.

Wicca breaks down the deities into the God/Goddess dynamic. For example, there is little difference between Osiris and Odin – they just are invoked for different purposes. Celtic Paganism believes that each deity is individualistic and unique.

Celtic Paganism recognizes that sacred places are found, not created.

Of course it must be said that most of what we know about the Celts is an educated guess, since they did not keep written records about themselves. Spiritual knowledge was passed on orally in the Celtic Tradition. Also, many Celtic artifacts were destroyed by the Romans, Vikings and Christians.

However, the distinguishing feature of Reconstructionalist Celtic Paganism is that it is an attempt to practice a spirituality that is close to that of the Ancient Celts. While Wicca is a modern, New Age creation with Celtic elements.

11 responses

  1. Reblogged this on Searching For Brigid and commented:
    Food for thought, kids.

    June 7, 2012 at 12:54 am

  2. Yes, people confuse Paganism and Wicca to often, it is also fascinating to learn about different paths

    June 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm

  3. Very nice summary – well done. This is one fo the most useful things I’ve read about Celtic paganism for awhile (I find it hard to find information that isn’t Wiccan-influence and/or overly academic)
    Oh, and special extra congratulations for keeping it succinct and focused 🙂

    June 11, 2012 at 4:59 am

  4. Steven Terrell (Emris Greenwood)

    I really appriciate your posting the distinctions between them , eolquently and without bias. ty

    August 29, 2012 at 11:15 am

  5. Pingback: Wiccan Privledge? | Metal Gaia

  6. deborah conklin

    this has been a very enlightening page for me and lets me know im on the positive path

    July 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

  7. anders

    “Wicca is based on the idea that you should harm none. This tenet is different from the views of the Celts, who in general were a warrior culture. They believed that it was necessary sometimes to kill in order to survive and that death and life were interconnected”

    Natural Law states the right to protect yourself from aggressors and intruders. Not to harm is to understand yours and everybody elses right to not be harmed. The right do defend against violence is inherent, and is a force that is right to use.

    Why do you have a gun? To defend yourself and your rights.

    To turn the other cheek and just accept abuse is new age nonsens designed to make people complicit to an agenda.

    Click to access Natural_Law__Yggdrasil__ver_C.pdf

    October 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    • Definitely, I agree with all the points you’ve made Anders. I do respect the fact that Wiccans have published so much material and have become publicly recognized for their beliefs. They have worked really hard to establish themselves, and I can respect them for that. I also understand why most Pagans are Wiccan, it’s an easy faith to follow and their community is pretty welcoming.

      However, I definitely don’t think Wicca represents what most Ancient Pagans believed. I have more respect for the Wiccans who basically admit that Wicca is a new religion, rather than the ones who try to say that it’s a tradition that lasted for thousands of years. The concept of the triple Goddess was invented in a Robert Graves novel in recent times. Much of the other stuff seems like it was Gerald Garnder’s personal preference, since he was into nudity and all.

      I think the “Harm None” creed is also pretty vague, since anything you do can harm someone or something. I ate a carrot yesterday, I think the carrot had to be killed so I could eat it.

      I myself identity as an eclectic Pagan, but in terms of ethics I identify much more with the ideas of Orlog and Frith in the Heathen community. Their ethics are the most realistic of any religion in my opinion. It’s about owing the greatest moral commitment to taking care of the people in your inner circle of contacts, your tribe or family so to speak. As that circle extends outwards, you owe gradually less and less commitment.

      This isn’t to say that you can be a dick to people who aren’t close to you. But it’s a realistic understanding that you owe strangers less of an obligation than those who are close to you. If you had to chose between saving the life of your mother or the neighborhood mail man, you would choose your mother. But hopefully, you would treat both with respect.

      Anyways, that’s my rant for today. Thanks for all your input on my blog.

      October 20, 2014 at 11:17 am

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